Tag Archives: Immigration

By Brooke Faulkner

As the world becomes more connected, many businesses are dreaming of expanding into other global markets. In fact, 54 percent of US companies already have some foreign market involvement, according to statistics from Rutgers University, and a whopping 80 percent of business executives agree that U.S. companies should expand internationally for long-term business growth. Increased digitization may make foreign expansion seem like a piece of cake, but in actuality, many factors contribute to realizing success as a truly global business. Here are three things to consider when conducting business abroad:

Invest in Workforce Diversity and Hiring

The HR component of a business is often looked at as a follow-up measure after the integral team has established a presence in a new market. However, when doing business abroad, it is vital that HR and hiring processes are a part of the globalization vision from the very beginning. Since it’s critical to find the right balance between international structures and local processes, senior leadership must give due importance to HR systems and hiring processes.

Global success is a product of culturally knowledgeable leadership and management teams. Thus, diversity of board makeup is very important. In fact, “83 percent of executives believe that diversity has enhanced brand reach and reputation.” Diverse leaders and employees are integral when expanding overseas — not only to connect with local consumers, but also to understand local rules, regulations, and traditions. For example, the board of directors at MasterCard include executives from the United Kingdom, India, the United States, Mexico, Belgium, and Hong Kong. It is often more prudent to use talent from overseas to lead teams working within a specific region. 

That being said, businesses must be aware of the visa, work permit, taxes, and social security procedures required for individuals to live and work in another country. To be globally efficient, a company must have a Global Mobility Team that is agile and adaptive.

Have a great Global Mobility Team

Consider the example of London-based Diageo, a premium beverages company with offices in 80 countries and a presence in about 180 markets. Diageo has created the appropriate Global Mobility Team for different markets by using a customized shared services model. This model provides consistent service to employees and can easily be adapted to adhere to local market requirements. The company’s two centers in Europe and North America serve as virtual hubs,  providing faster service to employees in terms of processing paperwork, legal requirements and more, wherever they are.

Within Europe, crossing borders seem easy but cross-border workers might trigger immigration, tax and social security risks for the company. It is therefore vital to work with service providers who monitor all cross-border activity. 

International Marketing Campaigns

Marketing campaigns change drastically when doing business abroad. It’s not enough to simply transpose a campaign used at home to another country. When taking a brand overseas, one must remember that what works for one set of people might not necessarily work for another.

Consider this Procter & Gamble example of doing business in Japan: When the company started selling Pampers in Japan, it used the image of a stork delivering a baby on its packaging. This image worked wonders in the U.S., but not so much in Japan. The company later found that the Japanese market was quite confused by this imagery, as stories of storks bringing babies aren’t part of Japanese folklore. Rather, the Japanese stories center around giant floating peaches bringing babies to parents. Had Procter & Gamble chosen culturally relevant imagery for their campaign, they would probably have had more success in Japan. Thus, it’s very important to know one’s audience, and thoroughly research culture and traditions prior to executing an international marketing campaign.

Check the Risks of Technology

The role of technology cannot be ignored when it comes to globalization. For one, technological advancements allow for rapid, real-time communications enabling customers to purchase products made anywhere around the globe. This, in turn, allows for pricing and quality information to be available to customers at the click of a button, resulting in very informed buyers with high expectations. Keeping the impact of technology in mind, business leaders must understand that they will lose pricing power — especially the power to set different prices in different global markets.

Secondly, it is technology that makes virtual hubs like Diageo’s possible. Two of the many benefits of digitization, especially relevant to doing business abroad, is the ability for employees to work remotely and the capability for global collaboration. So in case of a work emergency, where it isn’t possible to quickly hire local help or relocate an entire team to another country for a short-term assignment, cross-continental telecommuting makes for a viable solution. 

It can also help with retaining workers. Employees are more likely to stay at a job that allows them to live their best life. Better retention rates mean decreasing knowledge drain and less money spent on new employees.

However, this ease of access as gained through technological developments does come with its set of risks. Borderless workforces might be convenient, but the constant online communication and exchange of data put the company and/or customer information at risk of being stolen or hacked into. In fact, a new report by IDG Connect and Cibecs has highlighted that 50 percent of companies have “suffered data loss during the last 12 months.”

With this in mind, Ontrack recommends endpoint-focused data protection and data recovery investment as something all firms with a remote workforce or online capabilities should invest in. recovery budgets, with regularly-updated plans in place to restore lost data in the event of a mishap. Whether it’s simply selling products and services online or safeguarding sensitive internal data, effective data management and security is an absolute must for doing business abroad.

While expanding a business internationally may yield high profits and return on investment, the challenges in going global must not be overlooked. Therefore, it is vital for management to be well-versed with the multiple factors that come into play when conducting business abroad. A strong partner in the process is vital. For an early exploration of Global Mobility sign up to Angie Weinberger’s free upgrade of the “Global Mobility Workbook” (v3) here.

Brooke Faulkner

Brooke Faulkner is a writer in the Pacific Northwest who has conducted business all over the world. You can find more of her writing on Twitter via @faulknercreek

Depending on where you live, your job prospects can vary a lot. You may live in a city with a lot of jobs in your industry and it’s great when that happens. However, sometimes as outlined in this infographic from Hansen & Company, it can be difficult to get a break. Some people might need to move to a new city if their job search is proving fruitless. It isn’t nice but sometimes there is no other option.
If you live near Texas, it may well be worth checking out the jobs boards in cities there. For example, in Plano, Texas job growth has been fantastic in recent times. It still has extremely affordable housing and the highest number of full-time employees in the United States.
Unfortunately, there are still plenty cities with very high unemployment rates. Even the most qualified people might find it difficult to pick up work in certain areas of California such as Fresno, Stockton, and Modesto. Find out more information about the best cities to get a job in the infographic.

Go to http://www.hansen-company.com/immigration-into-us/.

We thought we should pull together the main reasons according to our experience that hinder expat spouses from finding a job in the host country. This is a non-scientific analysis based on opinion and experience. There a number of studies dedicated to the topic though. Mainly Global Mobility providers research how family impacts expat failure. In my view this is not enough. We should investigate how we can bring down the barriers to host employment. Let me know if you think I forgot an important topic.

Why is it so difficult for expat spouses to find a job in the host country? Here is a short analysis of the issues.

Work Permit Restrictions

Finding a job is not as straightforward for many of my clients as it is in their home countries. Work permit restrictions are a significant barrier to expat spouse employment. Not every country issues a work permit to the married spouse. Let alone the diversity of life partners mentioned earlier.

Lack of Host Language Skills

Even though the expat might work for a global company most jobs in the host country will require host language skills. Unless you move from the UK to the USA, you often will not have the language skills required to work in the host country.

Lack of Recognition of University Degrees in Regulated Fields

While within the EU we can assume that university degrees will be recognized due to the common job market, a Brazilian doctor cannot work in a hospital in Switzerland. We call this a “regulated profession”.

Lack of Transferable Knowledge

Lawyers, tax consultants, and even HR Professionals are often experts in their country, but the knowledge is often limited to the country and not transferrable. Even moving from Canada to Australia can be tricky if you are a lawyer.

Lack of Professional Networks

Another issue is the lack of a professional network, which gives access to the untapped and informal labor market in the host country. Often you can only join professional associations when you are in a corporate role or when you have graduated in the country.

Lack of Support in the Global Mobility Policy

Only very forward thinking global mobility and global recruiting policies address the need for support for “trailing” dual career partner. While ten years ago dual-career issues on international assignments were solved by sticking to a classical Western nuclear “family” models, we now want to adhere to the needs of dual careers, patchwork families, Eastern “family” models, same-sex partners and unmarried de- facto relationships.

Visionary Global Mobility policies address various support models ranging from providing a lump sum to spousal career coaching. As an intercultural career advisor, I also work with clients who decide to start a global, transferable business so that they can follow their life partner to other locations and become location-independent. Thanks to technology I can support clients in NYC as well as in Mumbai. We also support candidates to improve their personal branding in the host market, learn to network effectively, improve their interview skills and online presentations but GM Leaders need to update their policies

We also support candidates to improve their personal branding in the host market, learn to network effectively, improve their interview skills and online presentations. Global Mobility Leaders should update their policies and promote spouse support services rather than pay lump sums.

Intercultural bias of our Recruiters

Our recruiters often do not understand intercultural differences. Recruiters often don’t understand résumés from another country and outsourcing of talent specialists into HR shared service centers has not improved the chances of “foreign” candidates in the recruitment process.

Most selection methods and assessments are culturally biased. For example, in Switzerland, psychometric testing and other assessments of candidates are used to assess candidates next to interviews. Riedel (2015) shows examples where highly skilled candidates from China fell through the assessment roster in a German company because of their indirect communication style.

Unconscious bias of Sending Home Sponsors

PwC issued a study in 2016 on female expatriation where it becomes very obvious that a lot more women would be interested in an international assignment than the ones that are actually sent.

This is probably due to the unconscious bias of the sending home sponsors who assume a female manager is not mobile even though she might have mentioned it several times. I speak from experience.

Lack of Research to Measure Impact of Dual Career Programs

In 2012 ETH Zurich conducted extensive research with several European universities on barriers to dual careers within the EU and EFTA countries. While this research probably focused on scientists it is hardly known. We assume that companies working with support programs for their dual career population seem to have higher retention rates but we lack scientific evidence. I am highly encouraging students and lecturers to address this issue.

To sum it up there is still a lot to do in order to integrate the needs of dual career couples in the expatriation process.

On the receiving end, I can report that more and more expat spouses are male. There is hope.

The Global Mobility Workbook (Third Edition) (Paperback) can be purchased on amazon now. For bulk orders, click here.

References:

Riedel, Tim (2015): “Internationale Personalauswahl” 

Weinberger, A. (2019): “The Global Mobility Workbook”, Global People Transitions, Zurich.

Weinberger, A. (2015): „Interkulturell denken bringt Vorteile“ Persorama Summer 2015.

 

Discussion with Jill

 Jill is a successful Global Marketing Director with over twenty years of experience. She moved to Switzerland in 2009 as a local hire when she received a good offer from a large pharma company. As a US citizen and single professional woman integrating in Switzerland (a country largely dominated by males earning the main income while females keep the household and children in perfect shape) she initially had a hard time adjusting. After two years she finally felt settled and at home. Jill loves her work and next to a bit of exercise and travelling she does not take a lot of time off. She is successful and strong in a male environment. She is accepted because of her international background, experience and the high quality and fast output.
Then one day early in 2014 the company she works for had to downsize. Foreigners go first. Why is that? There is no logic in the employment law requiring certain criteria to be met when downsizing is on the agenda. Contrary to many European countries Swiss employment contract and employment law is closer to the US and UK case law. It is actually very easy to terminate an employee.

What most foreigners moving to Switzerland underestimate though, is that their work and residence permit status is closely linked to their employment. Unlike EU citizens (which still have the benefit of the blialteral agreement with the EU) a US , Canadian, Indian or Australian is considered a “third country” citizen. (Not to be confused with third world country). The immigration status therefore depends on having employment.  The fact that you are eligible for unemployment benefits is not giving the authorities grounds to extend your work and residence permit.

Last month I had two clients who were made redundant or are about to be terminated. Often not even the HR department understands the implications of the termination. I offer advice and support to clients in such cases.  I am not going to blurt out what I told Jill but we will update you if it works out. In a worst-case scenario she only has 60 days to move out of Switzerland (with an L-Permit it is only 15 days).

Here are three tips what you can  do now to avoid such a situation:

1)   If you are made redundant speak to HR about your personal situation. It might be possible to extend your termination period.

2)   Keep in contact with recruiting companies and headhunters in your field.

3)   Strengthen your network in your industry as most jobs are given to personal connections these days.

4)   Get married to a Swiss person or EU citizen.

5)   If you are transferred by a company, negotiate a repatriation clause in case of redundancy.

6)   Before you become desperate, make an appointment with us.

I have been asked to write about my view on the Swiss referendum for “curbing” immigration into Switzerland. It is very hard for me because I feel very strongly about this topic. I feel it was a huge mistake. I feel it affects me more than it should. I felt like leaving the country. I thought about giving you factual reasons why this referendum sends the wrong signals and why I can only assume that 50% of the Swiss voters did not really understand what they were doing. I thought I’d give you an insight into the immigration reality by showing facts and figures such as

1) Unemployment rate is at 3.5% (who’s taking jobs away?),

2) 22% foreigners include second generation immigrants who were born here as well as well-integrated permanent residents,

3) Many large companies have hundreds of open positions they cannot fill because the Swiss markets does not have the resources needed.

4) Many large companies are only strong because they hire experts from across the globe.

5) The pension system depends on a regular migration as there are not enough babies born by Swiss people.

6) Illegal immigration is per se NOT legal. So you cannot fight it with quotas.

7) Stopping the bilateral agreement means you want to end a contract that includes free trade into the EU and many other countless benefits that have pushed the growth in this country.

Without doubt:  This country depends on qualified immigration and on free trade with the EU.

BUT: facts and figures did not win this popular initiative. So I want  to tell you more about how I feel.

I came to Switzerland for work. I was well established in my home country Germany. I had worked in Zurich earlier in my life and had waited for a chance to move back. (In 1998 I could not stay as I would not have gotten a permit). My company asked me to move to Switzerland because the team was falling apart and they could not find a team leader in four months. I gave up my friends, my apartment and I moved. It was not easy. My role was a step down and I even took an income loss by purchasing power into account but I had this dream about living in Switzerland and it motivated me.

I said to my friends in Germany that I m “repatriating”. I was born on lake Constance so Switzerland felt like “home” for me. I was wrong. I speak High German, not Swiss German. I m a foreigner in this country and I will always be. I am an immigrant. If I ever spoke Swiss German perfectly I would still be an immigrant. I grew up with a heightened sensitivity about racism because I am raised in Germany. I belong to the nation responsible for the Holocaust.

In Switzerland people of my generation do not have the German guilt complex. They are open-minded but they do not worry about discrimination in the same way as I do. I work with people from different cultural and religious backgrounds and I want them to feel welcome and at home here but I do not even feel welcome and at home here.

I look at job postings asking for Swiss German and I feel the discrimination. It’s subtle but it is there. I felt it at work. Swiss colleagues would constantly mock my “German” style until I completely shut up, until I stopped being myself at work and until I gave up fighting for what I believe was right and important. I changed into a robot. Now, in Germany friends tell me “You talk in a funny way.” They laugh at my grammar. I’m shocked if a person I do not know speaks to me in public. I say “Merci” instead of “Danke”. I’m too early for appointments. I plan four weeks ahead and my friends at home shake their heads. I’m more relaxed, less pushy, less direct. German clients don’t get me. They think I am nice and shy. They think I don’t know anything. What I am trying to say is that I have become more Swiss than many Swiss people I know. I just don’t use the dialect because I am worried that I could hurt a Swiss person’s feelings.

My dear Swiss fellows, I am sensitive to your feelings and I am trying so hard but your majority does not care about my feelings or the feelings of the other 2 million well-behaved, well-integrated highly educated professionals that came to Switzerland for work.

Now, I run a business here, I pay my taxes, I create employment and still you do not want me here. It breaks my heart.